As Javier Zanetti prepares to make his 800th appearance for FC Internazionale Milano, coach Andrea Stramaccioni said it is time the club "found a way to clone our captain".
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FC Internazionale Milano coach Andrea Stramaccioni paid tribute to the Italian side's very own Lee Majors ahead of Thursday's UEFA Europa league play-off first leg against SC Vaslui.
Javier Zanetti is set for his 800th appearance in a Nerazzurri shirt in Romania and Stramaccioni, three years his skipper's junior at 36, was in awe on the eve of the game. "It's really incredible; I doubt I've even watched 800 games in my whole life," he said. "We should try to find a way to clone our captain. He is not human; he is a bionic man."
It is 17 years since the Argentinian joined Inter from CA Banfield, an arrival he described in the latest edition of Champions. He has since broken the club records for most Serie A outings and most appearances in a spell that has brought silverware at home and abroad, culminating in the 2010 UEFA Champions League. Yet he never becomes complacent.
"I'm very happy for this milestone," he said. "Honestly when I made my Inter debut I could never image it would have been the first of 800 games. I'm very proud, especially because I am reaching this milestone with a great family.
"I remember my first game with Inter – I didn't sleep at all the night before. Playing at San Siro was already a dream to me. The best of my 799 games was certainly the UEFA Champions League final [in 2010], when we realised an objective we had been seeking for so many years with an unforgettable victory."
For all the sense of occasion, however, Inter are not taking Vaslui lightly, especially after enduring a stern test from HNK Hajduk Split to reach the play-offs, scraping a 3-2 aggregate win. "I think Vaslui were the strongest team among those not seeded [in the draw]," said Stramaccioni. "They could have been in the UEFA Champions League play-offs considering their level." Zanetti would not have looked out of place there either.